Universal Access To All Knowledge
Home Donate | Store | Blog | FAQ | Jobs | Volunteer Positions | Contact | Bios | Forums | Projects | Terms, Privacy, & Copyright
Search: Advanced Search
Anonymous User (login or join us)
Upload

Reply to this post | Go Back
View Post [edit]

Poster: archivemovie123 Date: Aug 6, 2009 4:19pm
Forum: feature_films Subject: Copyright Research

How does one start doing thorough movie copyright research?
I have seen copies of the Film Superlist in big libraries, but how authoritative and trustworthy are they?

I saw that Secret Agent X-9 is not renewed in the FS, but yet Video-Cellar mentioned it was still copyrighted.

Aside from the few records for old movies you can find on the Copyright website, what is the best formula for determining PD status?

Video-Cellar could you help me out on this?

I'm interested in making documentaries and studying good old films

Reply to this post
Reply [edit]

Poster: Administrator, Curator, or StaffVideo-Cellar Date: Aug 6, 2009 7:43pm
Forum: feature_films Subject: Re: Copyright Research

The "Film Superlist" is a good starting point. It will help you determine renewal status of a film. The Superlists do contain some inaccuracies and the information is limited so it is only good as a launching pad for movies made before 1950.

One of the things that it doesn't account for is underlying rights. For example, with Secret Agent X-9, while one of the serials was not renewed, the underlying literary source was renewed. The comics that these were based on by Dashiell Hammett and Alex Raymond are still copyright and controlled by the heirs of D Hammett since they took over the copyrights in 1992:
Title: Secret agent X-9 / By Dashiell Hammett. AA151784 (1934) Termination effective 12Oct92.
Notes: Notice of termination of grant under 17 U.S.C. sec. 304; date and manner of service of the notice: 8Oct90 by first class mail.
Party 1: Amy Ardell, authorized agent for Josephine Hammett Marshall & Mary Hammett Miller, heirs of Dashiell Hammett, deceased.
Party 2: Alfred A. Knopf, Inc., Random House, Inc.; Isidore Englander, John Hersey, Kingman Brewster & Jack H. Klein, as executors of the Estate of Lillian Hellman, assignee of Popular Publications, Inc; William Abrahams, Peter Feibleman & Richard Poirer, as literary executors under the Will of Lillian Hellman;

By virtue of their control of the copyrights in the comics they are also in control of the use of the renewed serial and the unrenewed serial.

These are the basic areas you need to take into account to determine the status of a US created film published beween the beginning of 1923 and the end of 1963.

Copyright Notice: Look for a valid copyright notice. If there is a copy notice, look for a renewal. If no notice, you don't need to check for a renewal.

Renewal: Look for a copyright renewal (1950-63 at USCO, pre 1950 USCO Card System, Film Superlist, etc.)

Underlying rights: Examine the film for underlying literary (based on a play, book, comic) or musical works. If there are no underlying literary materials or this is an original screenplay/score no need to check the renewal status.
If there are possible literary copyrights, check for renewals at the USCO or:
pre 1950 Books, Plays, Periodicals - http://renewalrecords.urbanpug.com/ and http://www.kingkong.demon.co.uk/ccer/ccer.htm (Check at least 2-3 sources to be certain.)
If the underlying literary rights were renewed the film is unlikely to be Public Domain. If the literary rights were not renewed go onto the next step.

Foreign Creators/Owners: was the movie created or owned by someone of a Non-US citizenship (especially when looking at underlying rights) and published in a foreign country before the US? If so this movies copyright may be effected by a valid GATT/URAA restoration.

Who Claims Ownership: If all of the above suggest PD status, check the USCO for unfiltered results on the main and all additional titles of the film. This allows you to bring up copyright transfer lists and get an idea of who claims ownership on the film and the toes you'll be stepping on by using the film. If you are comfortable with the information you find here, begin using your public domain film.

This post was modified by Video-Cellar on 2009-08-07 02:43:06

Reply to this post
Reply [edit]

Poster: anh Mike Date: Aug 9, 2009 11:23am
Forum: feature_films Subject: Re: Copyright Research

thanks V.C. for your insight, knowledge and wisdom in this matter. I understand better now about what you were saying.

As for Captain America serial, if someone does not post I will. its in PD and besides the name and costume it has very little resemblance to comic. If DC comics has not complained about superman, then why would marvel? Worst comes to worst it would be taken down like King of the Rocket men and Zombies of the stratosphere. Note my copy of CA is transfer from VHS, although it was one of the best VHS. the tape did get old.

thanks to all

Reply to this post
Reply [edit]

Poster: guyzilla Date: Aug 9, 2009 9:56pm
Forum: feature_films Subject: Re: Copyright Research

Mine is also VHS from Video Treasures recorded in the ep mode, so the quality ain't great. If you want to put yours up, go ahead. I don't know if your copy is better than mine, but if you put yours up we can see. Besides, my editing skills are somewhat limited, as I only know how to use DivX Author to edit and convert, so all the files I upload are DivX. Maybe you could put up some nice mpeg4s or something.

This post was modified by guyzilla on 2009-08-10 04:56:05

Reply to this post
Reply [edit]

Poster: anh Mike Date: Aug 11, 2009 9:40am
Forum: feature_films Subject: Re: Copyright Research

I plan to post the CA vob renamed mpeg. I not sure I have time or the speedy PC to do all converting and converting to MPG2 makes the file larger. Mpeg4 are not a problem either. I never uploaded to IA, so I am not sure how long each ch. will take. And to complete the whole process will take sometime, I have no internet at Hm. I use others.

I looked at the copy again. it has its jumpiness and the firt few epidsode the movement is kind of sluggish. However, the image is good. As I said the tape was old.

What about the Lone ranger serial? I got access to both. The first is not complete. I have to transfer them. I plan to check on Flaming frontiers VHS, if better than Alpha.

Would you have a copy of spider's web serial on DVD? I am not asking to post, because it's copyrighted. Just checking to see whose got one.

Reply to this post
Reply [edit]

Poster: guyzilla Date: Aug 12, 2009 10:25pm
Forum: feature_films Subject: Re: Copyright Research

Take your time. The upload process is slow, but there's not much work to it. Just go through the steps, get the ball rolling, then you wait for it to get done. The waiting is what takes all the time in the upload process, the steps take just a couple of minutes.

Reply to this post
Reply [edit]

Poster: anh Mike Date: Aug 8, 2009 7:47pm
Forum: feature_films Subject: Re: Copyright Research

thank for you info on checking for PD movies. Anymore suggestions hsuold be helpful. I know the serialsquadron.com has some comments on PD movies. But one need to join yuku to see those comments.

BTW are you saying that if the character is copyrighted and TM, then the films should not be uploaded. I read previous post that seemed to say that about Captian America serial, which is PD. I skeptical and never heard that it is under the protection of marvel comics. The nostolgia merchant VHS has no permission notice and serialsquadron never sought marvel's permission. Futhermore, there are many films w. copyrighted and TM character posted on IA.

Thanks for all the advice

Reply to this post
Reply [edit]

Poster: anh Mike Date: Aug 8, 2009 7:47pm
Forum: feature_films Subject: Re: Copyright Research

thank for you info on checking for PD movies. Anymore suggestions hsuold be helpful. I know the serialsquadron.com has some comments on PD movies. But one need to join yuku to see those comments.

BTW are you saying that if the character is copyrighted and TM, then the films should not be uploaded. I read previous post that seemed to say that about Captian America serial, which is PD. I skeptical and never heard that it is under the protection of marvel comics. The nostolgia merchant VHS has no permission notice and serialsquadron never sought marvel's permission. Futhermore, there are many films w. copyrighted and TM character posted on IA.

Thanks for all the advice

Reply to this post
Reply [edit]

Poster: Administrator, Curator, or StaffVideo-Cellar Date: Aug 8, 2009 8:21pm
Forum: feature_films Subject: Re: Copyright Research

In theory, character's can't be copyright but they can be trademarked. Case law has demonstrated that trademarks can't be used to extend protection on a Public Domain work. So if the work is public domain and the character is trademarked it is legal to use the public domain film. However, in practice this does not always work. Some copyright owners use their legal power to pressure content users into not using these items even though the law would most probably be on the users side.

When using a comic book film/serial/TV ep with possible underlying rights, it comes down to one simple question. Is this film featuring "character x" based on a completely original story or is it based on one or more of the books?

If it was an original story: the rights to that story are coupled with the motion picture copyright, which has expired. Looking closely at "Captain America" it looks like the serial was based on a completely original story which means it would be fairly safe to use this serial (but that doesn't mean Marvel won't have a problem with people using it.)

The Fleisher/Famous Studios Superman Cartoons and the "Stamp Day for Superman" short I uploaded to ClassicTV are also OK becuase they are all original stories and the copyright expired when the motion picture copyright lapsed. This is even the same for using the WB cartoons, or any films with characters like Sherlock Holmes, The Shadow, Amos & Andy, etc where some of the catalogue is PD and some is in copyright.

Secret Agent X-9 is a different story. The serials are based on plot and story elements from specific books. Because of this the serial becomes a derivative work that is subject to the control of the original work (the book's) copyright owner. This is similar to the way that movies like "It's a Wonderful Life" were pulled out of the public domain.

Now to the trademarks. The purpose of a trademark is to protect a commercial brand and to prevent parties other than the rightful owner from using that brand. So you have to be careful how you use a trademarked character name. You are allowed to use a trademarked character name for "descriptive use". This means if the character name is in the title of the film you are free to use it, but if it isn't, you need to be careful how you use the name. "Stamp Day for Superman" is OK because "Superman" is in the title, but "The Shadow: International Crime" isn't because the film is called "International Crime". The best way to avoid this is to use a descriptive sentence ("INTERNATIONAL CRIME starring ROD LA ROCQUE as LAMONT CRANSTON/THE SHADOW") and never reproduce logos or symbols, unless they are part of an original public domain poster. You also can't remix, derive or remake the film beacuse this would infringe the trademark. You can only use the films in their original context. Keep this in mind and the big bad rights owners probably won't bother you with a Cease & Desist letter.

Reply to this post
Reply [edit]

Poster: anh Mike Date: Sep 17, 2009 3:01pm
Forum: feature_films Subject: Re: Copyright Research

"Secret Agent X-9 is a different story. The serials are based on plot and story elements from specific books. Because of this the serial becomes a derivative work that is subject to the control of the original work (the book's) copyright owner. This is similar to the way that movies like "It's a Wonderful Life" were pulled out of the public domain."--Video Cellar

What in the X-9 serial(s)are from the dashiel Hammett strips? He only wrote 3 stories. Therefore which stories and panel from the strips are elements or story borrowed. Please point them out to me.. for example Ch1 is from the story of ..... and panel .......

Thanks for your help

Reply to this post
Reply [edit]

Poster: Administrator, Curator, or StaffVideo-Cellar Date: Sep 18, 2009 12:08am
Forum: feature_films Subject: Re: Copyright Research

I don't think that the issue is bits of stories. The issue is the character nd the creative elements that make up the character. The reality is that the character name can not and is not the subject copyright but the character description and details (image, alias, job, demeaner, backstory, world view, surroundings, point of view, etc, etc) are all copyrightable elements of the stories. Dashiell Hammet created and wrote the first few stories, then it was continued by others. Until the originating story enters the public domain NO derivative work can truely be PD. Whether it be a book written 10 years later by Leslie Charteris or a serial made by Universal. The law allows the Hammet Estate to control the original creative elements that appear in all derivative works.

The best example of this is with Sherlock Holmes. Possibly the most well known character in literature. Most of the stories are PD. Just a few are still in copyright in the US. The Sherlock Holmes name is neither copyright nor trademarked. Case law has shown that I am free to adapt any of the PD works in the SH series to a new story or medium but I am not able to use the character in a completely new derivative work without the permission of one of the two companies that own a half share of the estate of Doyle. I could have a character called Sherlock Holmes but if he was a tall, thin, hawk-like nosed, intellectual, drug taking, private detective with a medical practitioner sidekick who lived with him at 221B Baker Street I would be in trouble.

Reply to this post
Reply [edit]

Poster: guyzilla Date: Aug 8, 2009 11:40pm
Forum: feature_films Subject: Re: Copyright Research

I was the one that offered to upload the "Captain America" serial but got cold feet about it. In the serial, the only elements from the comic book that survived the big screen transition was the title character's name and costume (minus the shield), the rest of the story had nothing to do with the comics. If I were to go ahead and upload it, wouldn't I risk getting the Archive into some heavy legal hassles, even thought the serial is PD?